Book info

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2008)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2008)
Author
Rating
4.07 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0307269752 (ISBN13: 9780307269751)
languge
English
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publisher
knopf
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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2008)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2008)

About book: Larsson takes what seemed at the outset to be a juicy 'locked-island-mystery plot' and turns it first into an insightful family saga and then into a scathing political and social commentary that forces us to think about such a wide variety of themes and aspects that we normally refuse to accept as part of society. It takes an author like Larsson to shove it in our faces in all its stinking ugliness for us to stop turning the blind eye at these atrocities.Do not mistake this for a mere fictional work with imagined crimes. It has firm foundations in reality. In my opinion, the whole plot is a thin wrap-sheet thrown around the brutal truths of real crimes. Larsson has extensive knowledge of the most heinous crimes and he has written extensively about them for his entire professional career. This expertise shows through in his description of such acts of unimaginable cruelty with an almost nonchalant objectivity, with a careless leaving out of the gory details and focus on the trivial aspects of the act that sends shivers down our spine.Larsson uses his investigative style of presentation and his two main characters and an extremely dysfunctional family to work in an amazing variety of potent themes into his first book. I cannot wait to see what he’ll do in the second one. Some of the themes explored in detail are:Online PrivacyThis is not part of the plot but Larsson seems to be sending out a warning about how deadly information can be in the wrong hands and how easily accessible any private info about you stored in digital form is. You are exposed and absolutely naked to a determined digital assault and there is nothing you can do about it. Of course in the novel it is never misused but the threat is always hanging in the air - if an uneducated girl and her friends can get the most private information about the most protected individuals in the country, what kind of a world are we heading into? And is it really bad? Food for thought...FeminismNo matter which way you look at it, this work will have to defined as one of the most wrathful outcries against society's attitude towards women. The entire story is about the enormous acts of cruelty committed against women and the absolute indifference to it by everyone who is supposed to care. It is also about the different responses that these women have in such an uncaring society. Which brings us to the most important theme of the book in my opinion:Morality and Allocation of BlameThe book is truly about three paths that a victim can take after an abused childhood.One of the characters suffers abuse and decides to become an abuser himself and embrace it as a fact of lifeThe second one suffers abuse and decides to run away from that life and live faraway and sheltered. No attempt is made to punish the abuser or to report it.The third character too suffers abuse but decides to confront it and return it with a vengeance. No violence or abuse is tolerated and any reaction is justified for this character.The fourth is the invisible character of what we expect a person to do in such a situation - report it, seek help from the authorities who are supposed to protect them. The society around and the grim reality that prompted the book gives the outcome to this course of action.Now the key point to me was that Larsson does not condemn any of them - he makes different characters speak in defense for each of these responses and lets us wonder about which course can ever be called right. in the end he manages to condemn both the society as a whole as well as us, the individuals who allow the society to be so. A caricature of morality.Law, Crime & BDSMLarsson's extensive knowledge about the worst forms of crime and the procedure of law allows him to give a gruesome reality to what we usually consider to be just sadistic fiction. He convinces the reader that it is real and all around us if we only cared enough to look.Nazi History, Military Training, Religious Extremism & Apologetics These are also touched upon at various points in the books and provides a background, especially of Swedish Nazism, from which the excuses for all the real crimes in the books could spring from.Journalistic (Professional) EthicsThis too is quite obviously one of the favorite topics for Larsson and it forms a strong undercurrent throughout the book and comes to a head with the firm conviction of the lead character that he is finally a corrupt journalist. He is reassured that he has done the right thing by choosing between being a professional and being a human being. But we as the readers, the character and the author, all know that this is not remotely convincing. Justice was meted out selectively and subjectively in the end and even though it feels right, that is only because of personal knowledge. Is that enough?Financial & Economic Commentary, Industrial Espionage and Hacker-loreLarge parts of the book goes into great detail about industrial politics and machinations and is sometimes quite boring to be frank, but it adds credence to the plot and has to be borne out. The elaborate hacker methodology too is a drag at times but remains mostly interesting and strangely disturbing.The financial interplay and the economic commentary sounds a bit forced but Larsson still manages to give out some forceful ideas such as:“We’re experiencing the largest single drop in the history of the Swedish stock exchange—and you think that’s nonsense?”“You have to distinguish between two things—the Swedish economy and the Swedish stock market. The Swedish economy is the sum of all the goods and services that are produced in this country every day. There are telephones from Ericsson, cars from Volvo, chickens from Scan, and shipments from Kiruna to Skövde.That’s the Swedish economy, and it’s just as strong or weak today as it was a week ago.” He paused for effect and took a sip of water.“The Stock Exchange is something very different. There is no economy and no production of goods and services. There are only fantasies in which people from one hour to the next decide that this or that company is worth so many billions, more or less. It doesn’t have a thing to do with reality or with the Swedish economy.”“So you’re saying that it doesn’t matter if the Stock Exchange drops like a rock?”“No, it doesn’t matter at all,” Blomkvist said in a voice so weary and resigned that he sounded like some sort of oracle.His words would be quoted many times over the following year.Family & IncestWhat it means to be a family and the inevitable nature of family relationships too seem to haunt Larsson and he gives free reign to his fears and troubles about family life, incest, indifference and corporate life affecting personal relations. He also asks the question of whether we can ever truly judge a person based on corporate success without knowing his relationships with his family and his personal life.There are probably other important ones that I have failed to mention but these were, in my opinion, the things that the book was meant to shine a torchlight on.On The CharactersI found this in an interview with Larsson and it captures the enigma of the two amazing main characters:“I considered Pippi Longstocking,” he said, referring to the most famous creation of the Swedish children’s author Astrid Lindgren, a girl so strong she could carry a horse. “What would she be like today? What would she be like as an adult? What would you call a person like that, a sociopath? Hyperactive? Wrong. She simply sees society in a different light. I’ll make her 25 years old and an outcast. She has no friends and is deficient in social skills. That was my original thought.” That thought evolved into Larsson’s formidable heroine, Lisbeth Salander.But he felt Salander needed a counterweight if his story was to be a success. Once again he turned to one of Lindgren’s characters, this time to Kalle Blomkvist, boy detective. “Only now he’s 45 years old and a journalist [called Mikael Blomkvist]. An altruistic know-it-all who publishes a magazine called Millennium. The story will revolve around the people who work there.” Personal ImpressionsWhile I loved the book wholeheartedly, I still had a few unfavorable impressions:Some of the side characters are a bit sketchy not fully realized. Especially some of the family members including Martin who did not get a gradual transition that a character like him deserved for maximum impact.The stylistically simple nature of the chapters and the book structure too takes away from the sophistication of the detail and plot. A bit more variety in the technique than a simple shift-of-perspective would have been better and less obvious. Also the tension eases off at all the wrong moments, primarily because Larsson has given a portent of things to come later too easily for a whodunnit. The pace too is not consistent and we spend a lot of time seeing scenery and almost every chapter opens with making coffee or with long uneventful walks.In the end, the reader does not get the pleasure of a proper whodunnit as there were no hidden clues spread across the book and in spite of homages throughout the book to masters of crime and mystery fiction, Larsson at some point decided to make his book not fit to the thrill of that genre and moved instead to far more sinister territories.The last section of the book felt much like a filler and had way too much detail and predictable action and could just as well have been left to the reader's imagination. The long winding down has put me off from any tension that would have made me run for the second book immediately. Now that everything is calm and quiet in the Millennium world, I too can take an idyllic break from it all...A good editor and more time to polish would have made this into a definite modern masterpiece, which I strongly suspect it to be already. But in spite of the flaws we still have an opus and some unforgettable characters that will stay with us for a long time to come. One Final Note:All the villains have a Windows PC and all the heroes have an Apple notebook. Splendid thing to use in a book about corporate morality among other things. I think this tipped the scales for the book to be a bestseller!

After having leaped onto the bandwagon with the rest of everyone, I feel a certain amount of pretentious indie pride saying that I wasn't as awed by this book as everyone else apparently was. Which is not to say that the book wasn't enjoyable and exciting; it just didn't knock my socks off whilst simultaneously blowing my mind and rocking my world. (that sounds like either some great song lyrics or a very complicated sexual maneuver. Let's go with the first option.)So, the good stuff: the main story - a disgraced journalist is hired by a rich old man to write a book about said man's crazy rich family, while secretly working to discover truth behind the disappearance and supposed murder of the man's granddaughter. Also in play is Lisbeth Salander, a freelance investigator who also happens to be one of the best hackers in Sweden. She also happens to be made of awesome, but I'll get to that later. The journalist is investigating a supposed murder (a body was never found, so no one even knows what happened to the girl), so violence is expected. I just wasn't quite prepared for just how intensely graphic the violence is. There's a lot of stuff dealing with assault, rape, and murder of various women. There is also a lot of sex in the book, and the stuff that gets described in the most detail is definitely not consensual and will probably make you very uncomfortable. You've been warned. The investigation itself is pretty fascinating, implausible as it is that some random guy investigating a disappearance that took place 40 years ago was able to find out completely new leads that weren't found by the police or the girl's grandfather (who's been obsessing about the case since forever), but I digress. The family itself is equal parts interesting, creepy, and frustrating. It's not until the journalist (Blomkvist) teams up with Lisbeth that things get really interesting, and they made such a fun team I wanted them to get their own detective show. The book deals mainly with crimes against women and those who commit them. Larsson obviously feels very passionately about this subject, as well as what should be done with the men who assault women. Without giving anything away, rest assured that every bad guy rapist/murderer/whatever gets a large helping of tasty justice. And now for the bad stuff: -There's a lot of nattering on about business and computers and journalism and more business stuff that either bored me or went over my head completely. -Larsson cannot seem to decide whether he wants to refer to people by their last name or their first name, so he switches back and forth and it is confusing. -A family tree is provided at the beginning of the book, since the family the journalist is investigating (the Vangers) is pretty big, but I never had much trouble keeping everyone straight. A map of the island the family compound is located on would have been much more helpful, since I never really figured out the geography of the place. -Pointless details. I don't need to know what the characters ate for every single meal, I don't need to know exactly what model of computer/motorcycle/car a character uses, and I definitely don't need to know what each character is wearing at every moment of the day. Larsson is especially guilty of this when Lisbeth is concerned - I guess he decided we wouldn't understand what a unique counterculture tough chick she is unless we know that she's always wearing leather jackets, boots, torn jeans, and black t-shirts with angry slogans. (yes, Larsson actually tells us what each of Lisbeth's t-shirts says.) Listen, Stieg: Lisbeth is awesome. She is wonderfully defined simply through her own actions and thoughts - we don't even need the other characters constantly reminding us how antisocial and tough and uncommunicative and badass she is. Believe me, we can see that. Show don't tell etc. To sum up, I'm going to give the last word to the book itself, and quote a sentence that's actually a character talking about a book featured towards the end of the story - but it could easily describe Larsson's book:"It was uneven stylistically, and in places the writing was actually rather poor - there had been no time for any fine polishing - but the book was animated by a fury that no reader could help but notice." That, in a nutshell, was how I felt about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.UPDATE: I just watched the film version of this book (the original Swedish one, thank you verra much), and am adding this to my "the movie is better" shelf. Not that the book isn't good; it's just that the movie streamlines the story and gets rid of everything I complained about earlier in this review. In the movie, all the minor characters and business-drama babble has been eliminated, Erika and Mikael's weird three-way relationship is thankfully unmentioned, Mikael never boffs Cecilia Vanger, and Noomi Rapace is so fucking cool as Lisbeth I can't even handle it. I'm also pretty sure they took some stuff from The Girl Who Played With Fire and put it in the movie, because there's some stuff about Lisbeth's past that I don't remember from the book. UPDATE UPDATE: Having now seen the American remake, and re-watched the Swedish version, I have come to a following decision. While the American version is, in a technical sense, a better movie (Fincher is a much better director - for just one example, the scene where Henrik Vanger explains the circumstances of Harriet's disappearance is a masterful example of show-don't-tell), I dislike the changes they made to the ending, and I simply cannot accept Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. Although I'm proud of Fincher & Co. for making her look and act as weird as the character should, something about her portrayal still wasn't right. If you're interested, this article explains pretty much every complaint I have about American Lisbeth.
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Reviews
Beth F.
Swedish people are nuts! I realize that’s a bit of a broad generalization and it sounds a bit rude, but I don’t care. Because more often than not, I’m nuts too.I was born and raised in Minnesota, and if you know our state history, you’re already aware that we were predominantly settled and populated by Swedish (and Norwegian) immigrants. So not only are many Minnesota residents of Scandinavian descent, myself included, a lot of our quirky mannerisms and even our accents are commonly attributed to this influence. I attended a Swedish Lutheran college (which attracted a lot of Swedish exchange students). And one of my oldest and dearest friends is an American by birth but was raised in Sweden and didn’t return to live full-time in the U.S. until she was 18. She’s always found Minnesotans to be a very interesting form of science experiment—what happens when you mix Swedish and American culture anyway? Taking what I know firsthand of Minnesota culture into consideration, I can only assume that Sweden, aka the motherland, is also a twisted place of dark, dry humor. Some mainstream examples that support this claim would include: Fargo, Drop Dead Gorgeous, A Prairie Home Companion and yes, even Mr. Purple Rain himself, who even though he’s genetically a bit more exotic than a plain old Swede, definitely displays some of the more oddball (but typical) Minnesota traits in his own special way. The point being, the characters in this book felt oddly familiar to me, quirks and all. I’m actually a bit surprised I loved the book as much as I did because I normally criticize authors for trying to jam too much into one story and this book had a lot going on:--shady business dealings--corporate fraud--murder--religious fanaticism--extramarital affairs--Nazis--casual sex--creepy pervs--violence against women--money laundering--sexual sadism--political proselytizing--dysfunctional family secretsAnd that’s just scraping the surface. Because once Larsson got into it and started digging deeper into the plot and revealing more details, my head started spinning and I had smoke coming out of my ears. I wasn’t expecting to be sucked in so quickly by the plot and am still reeling over the fact that this brick-like book (my copy has nearly 600 pages) went as quickly as it did. I just reserved the sequel from the library and am also excited at the prospects of a third. I’m also sad that Mr. Larsson passed away. What a talented author—not many could tie so much crazy shit into one story and still have it make sense AND be entertaining. Although I think whoever decided to change the title when they released this book in English is nuts too. The original Swedish title, Men Who Hate Women, is much more fitting.
Huda Yahya
لعنة اغتيال المشاعرهذه هي الرواية المبجلة بلا مبالغةلقد أصابتني لعنة ليزبث وأضانني ثقل دمها الذي ينافس ثقل دم المؤلفوتعلمت درسًا قاسياقد تصيبك رواية ثريللر وياللعجب بتثاؤب لا إرادي:\برررررربرررررررررررأصدق كلمة أستطيع التعبير بها عن هذه الروايةلا أجد سوى كومات من الثلج تحيط بي من كل جانبوأجدني فاقدة القدرةِ على إبداء أي نوعٍ من الأراء أصابني شعور يشبه ما قد يعتريك إن حُبست في فريجيدير أصلي ملآن بالطعامفلا تستطيع الأكل ولا التنفسوكل ما تشعره هو البرد والحسرة على كل هذا الطعام المرصوص بتناسق جماليلا تستطيع الاقتراب منهبل تتداعى أنفاسك مع الوقت وتوشك على التجمد حتى الموت;(أنا لم أشعر بشيءلا لهفة ولا تأثّرولا ارتباط بالشخصياتولا أي اندهاشة يا أهل اللهكنت أقلّب الصفحات رافعة نصف حاجب ليس إنفعالاً بشيء -لا سمح الله- ولكن ترقّب لأي نوع من العاطفة قد يعتريني لأقبّل الأرض الطيبة ساجدة متبتلة حيث مازال بإمكاني أن أنفعل وأحسّ:'(هذه الرواية أعجبت الكثيرينوهذا حقهم في التعبير عن إعجابهمفستجد مراجعاتٍ مادحة للرواية ومزيج من الأحاسيس قد إمتلأ به الأصدقاء بعد قراءتهم لهافما الذي يجدونه فيها؟حتى هذه اللحظة لاأدريولا أريد أن أعرف:Dالرواية البوليسية على الأقل تدهشك،، تفاجئك تصيبك بحالة من التشوق ولكنني كنت جالسة كأنّ على رأسي طير أخرس :\كتبتْ الرواية بحرفية شديدةهذا واضح ومن المفترض أن المؤلف أراد إدهاشك وإمتاعكوقد فعل ذلك مع الكثيرين -آه والله:\فتعلّق البعض بشخصية ليزبث وتفاعلوا مع غرابة أطوارهاوأحب البعض القصة التي لا تلبث أن يضاف إليها منعطفات جديدةوشهق البعض تعجباً واذبهلالاً عندما وجدوا أن هارييت مازالت حية وأصاب بعضهم استبحس كاد يودي بهم عندما كاد بلومفيست يموت شنقاً :'(يارب كنت أتمنى شهقة متعة واحدة والله لم أكن أطلب الكثيركنتُ سأكتفي بشيء واحد له طعم أو لون ولكن أبى المؤلف أن يرأف بي ولذا فأنا في كامل قواي العقلية قد أعلنت مقاطعتي لجميع ما كتب المؤلفرحمه الله وكفاني شر ما كتب ::::::::::::::::#تحديثشاهدت الفيلم من فترة قريبة وقد أضاف كومة جديدة من كومات الثلج إلى نفسيإخراجا وأداءا وتصويراًوكأنهم قد أقسموا جميعا على الحفاظ على كل قطرة ملل مكتوبة وتحويلها إلى مشاهد تنافس الجبل الجليدي الذي أطاح بتيتانيكولأجل كل هذا وبمناسبة الإندهاش أحب أن أهدى هذا الإعلان تضامناً مع مشاعري المتبلدةعلى الأقل رسم ابتسامة على وجهيأشعرني بشيءفلتحيا الفريسكا إلى الأبدhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkMdrm...ولا حرمني وإياكم بهجة الإحساس والإندهش!
karen
we are in low-three land here. but at least i am learning things about sweden! for example: ladies in sweden just kind of shrug off sexual abuse! they are rape-teflon! this i am learning from the facts provided at the beginning of chapters, and from various characters' reactions to events. they just brush themselves off and go back to eating sandwiches. yes, that is another thing i learned: the swedes eat sandwiches. exclusively. if you excise every occurrence of the words "coffee" and "sandwiches" from the text, you will be left with a book maybe half the size of what it is now. it is like larsson had some sort of writing tic that when he was stuck for what the characters should do next, he would just bang out, "eat sandwiches and coffee". sweden is overall a sexually permissive country - women will share their men with a "no harm done" attitude of complacency - there will be handshakes and smiles all around. and perhaps a sandwich! sweden's prisons are fun places where a guy can really get some rest before he goes back into the world to sex up some more ladies - consensually, of course. these are the wonders of sweden, as presented by the girl with the dragon tattoo. so those constitute my "ughs"i really just don't understand the mass appeal of this book. there are crimes committed in this book for no other reason than character development. that, to me, is an odd way to write a book. there is a density to the writing that is enjoyable, but the dénouement is incredibly abrupt, and then there is just... more story... true, it is a wrapping-up of another plotline, but the energy that should follow the big whodunit seems compromised by about fifty pages of ...more plot. the reader becomes emotionally invested in one storyline and intellectually invested in the other... after the emotional plot is spent, who wants to read a long subplot wrap-up? this is coming from someone who doesn't read a lot of mysteries, but knows how they should be shaped. and i rather liked the subplot wrap-up, but my attentions as a reader were confused.questions i am forced to ask:is the hype just because of author-death? and the mystique therein? because this guy ain't no mishima, is all i'm saying.is there a distinction between autism and sociopathy?what was the point of the character of cecelia?are three facial piercings and 4 tattoos really considered to be that "weird" and excessive in sweden?and while we are on the subject - i am so sick of hot-goth-computer-hacker characters. i was sick of it wayyyy back here:and here:and i don't even watch this show, but i am aware of it:i announce:it is enough already. get a new cliché. like "average-build girl who sometimes listens to dave matthews". or "girl who dresses office-appropriate and sometimes smokes pot on weekends". cybergoth chicks are over, people...the book is fine, i may or may not read the other ones - this one was for class, but now that i have read one, i am almost compelled to finish it off. this is the reason i don't usually read genre fiction. i cannot commit to 11 books, or whatever... but i may have just mentally committed to 2.
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